Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 28, 2013

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name," Matthew 6:9

The Lord's Prayer may have been the first "grown up" prayer you learned. It was for me.

But I didn't learn that it was far more than just a prayer but rather a pattern for prayer and a new way to understand my relationship with God!

Recently I have been studying this important teaching of Jesus and discovered four great purposes for prayer:

1) Worship
2) Will
3) Wants
4) Warfare

In a previous post I shared how prayer is an essential part of worship because prayer connects you with the Person of God.

This morning I want to show you a second aspect of prayer as worship - it brings you into God's presence.

The last couple days of our vacation we were hosted by some very dear friends. You probably have friends who seem like family and that is who this precious couple is to us. Time with them refreshes us because we enjoy each other's presence so much. We want to bless them and they are committed to blessing us.

Jesus, in John 15 shared some of the blessings of living in the presence of God:

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:1-11

Prayer brings you into the presence of God. Prayer enables you to remain in the presence of God. In His presence good things happen:

You will bear His spiritual fruit

You will have power in prayer

You will know His love

You will live in His joy

According to Jesus, prayer should be thought of as worship because it connects you with God's Person and brings you into His presence!

Will you enter His presence today?

August 27, 2013

"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

"Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14 (Amplified)

Holiness is hard!

Look at the two main verbs in this verse "strive" and "pursue". Those are extra effort type words. They require energy and determination - and desire.

What is holiness and why is it so hard?

Well, the "what it is" is "why it is" so hard.

Holiness is consecrating yourself to God, as the Amplified renders it. Consecrate means that I set myself apart from my selfish desires, my selfish ambitions, my sinful past and give myself completely to God for the purpose of being made holy by Him. You or I cannot make ourselves holy, we can only repent of our sins and renounce sin to give ourselves unreservedly to God so He can make us holy by the cleansing of His blood and the indwelling of His Spirit.

Holiness refers to the condition of your heart in relationship to God. Holy people love God with all their heart and all of their mind. Holiness allows the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your heart empowering you to overcome temptation and sin.

Holiness purifies your motives so that whatever you do is fueled by love (for God and for others). Holiness is being able to fulfill the Great Commandment by loving God and loving others as yourself.

In this verse holiness is equated with peace. You cannot be holy with God while you live in turmoil with others.

So, holiness is difficult because it requires being reconciled on two levels of relationship - holy with God and at peace with men. That doesn't happen automatically. It doesn't happen accidentally. You have to "strive" against your selfish nature and you must "pursue" God's nature.

But holiness is necessary and required of those who desire to see God - Who also happens to be holy.

Holiness really matters! Does it matter to you?

Are you pursuing holiness?

Are you making every effort to live peaceably?

Are you prepared to see God?